#ILO; #UnEmplyment; #Covid19Pandemic; #SafeReturnToWork;
Geneva, May 30 (Canadian-Media): The ILO’s latest analysis of the labour market impact of COVID-19 exposes the devastating and disproportionate effect on young workers, and analyses measures being taken to create a safe return to work environment, ILO reports said.
More than one in six young people have stopped working since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic while those who remain employed have seen their working hours cut by 23 per cent, says the International Labour Organization (ILO).
According to the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. 4th edition , youth are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and the substantial and rapid increase in youth unemployment seen since February is affecting young women more than young men.
The pandemic is inflicting a triple shock on young people. Not only is it destroying their employment, but it is also disrupting education and training, and placing major obstacles in the way of those seeking to enter the labour market or to move between jobs.
“The COVID-19 economic crisis is hitting young people – especially women – harder and faster than any other group," Guy Ryder, ILO’s Director-General said.
At 13.6 per cent, the youth unemployment rate in 2019 was already higher than for any other group. There were around 267 million young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) worldwide. Those 15-24 year olds who were employed were also more likely to be in forms of work that leave them vulnerable, such as low paid occupations, informal sector work, or as migrant workers.
“The COVID-19 economic crisis is hitting young people – especially women – harder and faster than any other group. If we do not take significant and immediate action to improve their situation, the legacy of the virus could be with us for decades. If their talent and energy is side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to re-build a better, post-COVID economy,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.
The Monitor calls for urgent, large-scale and targeted policy responses to support youth, including broad-based employment/training guarantee programmes in developed countries, and employment-intensive programmes and guarantees in low- and middle-income economies.
Testing and tracing pays off
The 4th edition of the Monitor also looks at measures to create a safe environment for returning to work. It says that rigorous testing and tracing (TT) of COVID-19 infections, “is strongly related to lower labour market disruption… [and] substantially smaller social disruptions than confinement and lockdown measures.”
In countries with strong testing and tracing, the average fall in working hours is reduced by as much as 50 per cent. There are three reasons for this: TT reduces reliance on strict confinement measures; promotes the public confidence and so encourages consumption and supports employment; and helps minimize operational disruption at the workplace.
In addition, testing and tracing can itself create new jobs, even if temporary, which can be targeted towards youth and other priority groups.
The Monitor highlights the importance of managing data privacy concerns. Cost is also a factor, but the benefit-to-cost ratio of TT is “highly favourable”.
“Creating an employment-rich recovery that also promotes equity and sustainability means getting people and enterprises working again as soon as possible, in safe conditions,” said Ryder. “Testing and tracing can be an important part of the policy package if we are to fight fear, reduce risk and get our economies and societies moving again quickly.”
Loss of working hours
The Monitor also updates the estimate for the decline in working hours in the first and second quarters of 2020, compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. An estimated 4.8 per cent of working hours were lost during Q1 2020 (equivalent to approximately 135 million full-time jobs, assuming a 48-hour working week). This represents a slight upward revision of around 7 million jobs since the third edition of the Monitor. The estimated number of jobs lost in Q2 remain unchanged at 305 million.
From a regional perspective, the Americas (13.1 per cent), and Europe and Central Asia (12.9 per cent) present the largest losses in hours worked in Q2.
The Monitor reiterates its call for immediate and urgent measures to support workers and enterprises along the ILO’s four-pillar strategy: stimulating the economy and employment; supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes; protecting workers in the workplace; relying on social dialogue for solutions.
#ILO; #SafeReturnToWork; #Covid19Pandemic; #Health&Safety; #EconomicRecovery
Geneva (ILO News), May 25 (Canadian-Media): Return to work policies should be informed by a human-centred approach that puts rights and international labour standards at the heart of economic, social and environmental strategies and ensures that policy guidance is embedded in national occupational safety and health systems, ILO repors said.
ILO. Image credit: Twitter handle
Two guidance documents for creating safe and effective return-to-work conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic have been issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Guidance Note says that return to work policies need to be informed by a human-centred approach that puts peoples’ rights at the heart of economic, social and environmental policies. Social dialogue – bringing together governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations – will be critical in creating the effective policies and trust needed for a safe return to work.
The note draws on specialist ILO guidance documents and International Labour Standards, which provide a normative framework for creating a safe return to work. The document stresses that policy guidance should be embedded into national Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) systems, as these create the basis for safe workplace environments. The guidance can therefore contribute to a culture of continuous, country-level improvement, in administration, institutions, laws and regulations, labour inspections, information gathering, and other areas.
“Before returning to work, workers must be confident that they will not be exposed to undue risks... To help enterprises and economies get going as soon as possible, workers will need to cooperate with these new measures," said Deborah Greenfield, ILO's Deputy Director-General for Policy
Workers must feel safe at their workplaces, both from risks directly related to COVID-19, and indirect risks, including psychosocial issues and ergonomic risks related to working in awkward positions or with poor facilities when working from home, the guidelines say. They should have the right to remove themselves from any situation “which they have reasonable justification to believe presents an imminent and serious danger to their life or health”, and “shall be protected from any undue consequences”.
The document proposes that each specific work setting, job or group of jobs should be assessed before returning to work and that preventive measures should be implemented to ensure the safety and health of all workers according to a hierarchy of controls. For workers staying at home, the risk of infection in a work context can be eliminated; for all workers returning to workplaces, priority should be given to options that substitute hazardous situations for less hazardous ones, such as organizing virtual instead of physical meetings. When this is not possible a mix of engineering and organizational control measures will usually be required to prevent contagion, The specific measures to implement are specific to each workplace, but may consist of installing physical barriers such as clear plastic sneeze guards, improving ventilation, or adopting flexible working hours, in addition to cleaning and hygiene practices. The guidelines also recall that the use of appropriate personal protective equipment may be required to complement other measures, in particular for the most hazardous occupations, and that this equipment should be provided without cost to workers.
The needs of workers at higher risk of severe illness should be taken into account; including older workers, pregnant workers, those with pre-existing medical conditions, refugees, migrants and those in the informal sector. Special attention will be needed to ensure that return to work policies do not create discrimination related to gender, health status, or other factors.
“Unsafe work practices anywhere are a threat to both health and sustainable business, everywhere. So, before returning to work, workers must be confident that they will not be exposed to undue risks,” said Deborah Greenfield, ILO's Deputy Director-General for Policy. “And, to help enterprises and economies get going as soon as possible, workers will need to cooperate with these new measures. This means that social dialogue will be particularly important because it is the most effective way to feed information and views into policies and actions, so creating the best chance for a swift and balanced recovery.”
The Guidance Note, A safe and healthy return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic , is accompanied by a 10-point, Practical Guidance action checklist for employers, workers and their representatives. This tool is intended to compliment and not replace national occupational safety and health regulations and guidance, to help establish the practical details of a safe return to work.
#UN; #GreenShift; #TransportSector; #GlobalEconomy; #sustainable
Geneva, May 19 (Canadian-Media): Transforming the transport sector to be more environmentally-friendly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, could create up to 15 million new jobs worldwide and help countries move to greener, healthier economies, according to a UN-backed report published on Tuesday, UN reports said.
A bus driver in New York City wears a mask to protect himself against the Coronavirus.
Image credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
The study argues that recovery from the crisis cannot mean a return to “business as usual” for a sector that accounts for more than 60 million jobs globally. Instead, it provides an opportunity to advance the collective effort to achieve sustainable development for all people and the planet, by 2030 through the SDGs.
“Pursuing the goal of an environmentally sustainable and inclusive society requires a structural transformation of the economy, including both changes in the products and services on offer and production processes”, said Catherine Saget, Team Leader at the International Labour Organization (ILO), which co-authored the report.
“This structural transformation, which would include the transport sector, has the potential to create decent work and protect workers and their families, if it is accompanied by suitable policies.”
Making the ‘green shift’
The report -- Jobs in green and healthy transport: Making the green shift’ – is the work of the ILO and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), with the support of the Partnership on Jobs in Green and Healthy Transport – part of the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme.
It examines the employment implications of four “green transport” scenarios in nearly 60 countries, in North America, Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, which are UNECE members.
The scenarios - which envisage an accelerated expansion of public transport, and the electrification of private passenger and freight transport - are compared with a “business-as-usual” approach.
The authors found that if half of all vehicles manufactured going forward were electric, an estimated 10 million more jobs could be created worldwide; nearly a third of them in the UNECE region. Additionally, nearly five million more jobs could be created if UNECE countries doubled their investment in public transport.
A call to action
These measures could also spark job creation outside the transport sector. For example, reduced oil spending could lead to a rise in spending on goods and services, while electrification could boost job creation in the renewable energy sector.
Other potential benefits include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, air and noise pollution, and traffic congestion.
“The inland transport sector is key in the economies of our region, both regarding its share of GDP and employment”, said UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova. “This study highlights some of the key opportunities to transform the sector and make it greener, healthier and more sustainable”.
She described the report as “a call for governments and the sector itself to make the right choices and invest massively in public transport and green technologies to seize these opportunities.”
#UN; #GrandEthiopianRenaissanceDam; #Africa; #Egypt, #Ethiopia, #Sudan
Geneva, May 19 (Canadian-Media): UN chief António Guterres is encouraging Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to persevere with efforts to overcome their differences and reach agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
In Ethiopia, a nine-year-old child carries jerry cans filled with water to her home, four kilometers away from the borehole. Image credit: UNICEF/Ayene
Through his spokesperson, the Secretary-General noted on Tuesday that “good progress” is being made in negotiations between the three countries in hopes of achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.
Going up along the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan, and under construction since 2011, the $4.5 billion dam – also known by its acronym GERD - will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant once completed.
Negotiations centre on the pace at which Ethiopia fills the 74 billion cubic metre reservoir behind the dam and the impact that could have on water supplies downstream in Sudan and Egypt.
Ethiopia is keen to start filling the reservoir in July.
“The Secretary-General underscores the importance of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD, which emphasizes cooperation based on common understanding, mutual benefit, good faith, win-win, and the principles of international law,” the spokesman said.
“The Secretary-General encourages progress towards an amicable agreement in accordance with the spirit of these Principles,” he added.
Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum have all indicated their willingness to resume discussions, but differences linger over the appropriate mechanism for such talks.
UN experts say that Egypt wants to put international pressure on Ethiopia to agree to a proposal - put forward by the United States and World Bank - on the dam’s first filling and annual operation.
But Ethiopia is rejecting that idea as severely limiting the dam’s capacity to generate electricity and curtailing rights to future upstream development, among other reasons.
Egypt also insists that Ethiopia must not start filling the reservoir until an agreement is reached, in line with its interpretation of the Declaration that Ethiopia is contesting.
The Secretary-General encourages progress towards an amicable agreement -- UN Spokesperson
The Declaration, signed in March 2015, outlines the parties’ commitment to cooperation and to resolve differences through negotiations. It also states that if a dispute cannot be resolved, the matter can be referred to the heads of State and Government with an option for a joint request for mediation.
Ethiopia favours resolving the dispute at the trilateral level and has historically been against internationalizing the issue, seeing no mediation role for the United Nations.
On 13 May, Sudan’s Ministry of Irrigation said that the country could not agree to an Ethiopian proposal on the initial filling as it failed to address longer-term technical, legal and environmental issues.
According to news reports, Egypt also dismissed the Ethiopian proposal on the initial filling, writing a letter to the Security Council on 1 May calling on Ethiopia to respect its obligations and resume talks.
#UN; #ILO; #DevelopingCountries; #Covid19Pandemic; #SocialProtection
ILO, May 14 (Canadian-Media): The spread of COVID-19 in developing countries has exposed gaps in social protection coverage which could compromise recovery plans, expose millions of people to poverty and affect global readiness to cope with similar crises, according to two policy briefs issued Thursday by the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN reports said.
A worker cleans finished wood flooring in a factory in Zhejiang, China. Image credit: ILO
The report on Social protection responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in developing countries, describes social protection as “an indispensable mechanism for delivering support to individuals during the crisis”. It looks at response measures introduced in some countries, such as the removal of financial barriers to quality health care, and protecting incomes and jobs, among other interventions.
The ability to access affordable, quality, healthcare has become “a matter of life and death”, the UN labour agency brief says.
Coronavirus, one deadly threat among others
It cautions policy makers against a singular focus on COVID-19, which could reduce the ability of health systems to respond to other conditions that kill people daily. According to its data, 55 per cent of the world’s population – 4 billion people – lack social insurance or social assistance. Only 20 per cent of unemployed people are covered by unemployment benefits.
The second brief - Sickness benefits during sick leave and quarantine: Country responses and policy considerations in the context of COVID-19 – warns that gaps in sickness benefit coverage, results in anxious workers being forced to go to work when they are ill, or should self-quarantine, increasing the risk of infecting others. The related income loss increases the risk of poverty for workers and their families.
It calls for urgent, short-term measures to close the coverage gaps – which, in turn, would bring about support for public health, poverty prevention and promotion of the human rights to health and social security.
Extend sickness benefits to all
It proposes extending sickness benefit coverage to everyone, as well as increasing benefit levels to ensure they provide income security, speeding benefit delivery and expanding the scope of benefits to include prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
“The COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call”, said Shahra Razavi, Director of the ILO Social Protection Department. It has shown that a lack of social protection not only affects the poor but also exposes the vulnerability of those who have been “getting by relatively well,” she said, as medical charges and income loss, can easily destroy decades of family savings.
Putting robust social protection systems in place can be a huge challenge, says ILO development economist Jayati Ghosh.
Vicious circle of loss
While the need for social protection has never been more evident, these large demands on public fiscal resources come just as most developing countries are facing rapid declines in export and tourism revenues, and capital outflows.
While most developed countries are instituting large fiscal stimulus packages, this is much more difficult for developing countries. Their estimated financing needs are around $2.5 trillion, she says, while the immediately required increase in health spending, is projected to reach between $160 billion and $500 billion.
IMF reserves, debt forgiveness
One way to achieve this goal is through a large new issue of Special Drawing Rights by the International Monetary Fund - reserve assets created to supplement countries’ official foreign exchange reserves.
She also says a halt to all debt repayments (both principal and interest) would be required for one year or until debt restructuring packages are worked out. This is essential because as much as $1.6 trillion of developing country external debt is due to be repaid in 2020, with a further $1.1 trillion due in 2021.
#UN: #Covid19Pandemic; #WorldEconomyShrink; #VaccineDevelopment; #Deaths
New York, May 14 (Canadian-Media): Against the backdrop of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the world economy in 2020 is projected to shrink by 3.2 per cent, racking up some $8.5 trillion in overall losses – wiping out nearly four years of output gains, according to a mid-year economic analysis by the United Nations.
Shoppers at a market in the Libyan capital Tripoli. Image credit: UNSMIL/Abbas Toumi
In its World Economic Situation and Prospect (WESP) report update, launched on Wednesday, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said that as of mid-2020, the gross domestic product (GDP) in developed countries will plunge to -5.0 per cent, while the output of developing countries will shrink by 0.7 per cent.
“The global economic outlook has changed drastically since the launch of WESP 2020 in January”, observed Elliott Harris, UN Chief Economist and Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development.
The coronavirus has unleashed a health and economic crisis, unprecedented in scope and magnitude, with lockdowns and border closures paralyzing economic activity and laying off millions of workers globally.
“With the large-scale restrictions of economic activities and heightened uncertainties, the global economy has come to a virtual standstill in the second quarter of 2020,” he added. “We are now facing the grim reality of a severe recession of a magnitude not seen since the Great Depression.”
Meanwhile, to fight the pandemic and minimize the impact of a catastrophic economic downturn, Governments globally are rolling out fiscal stimulus measures that equal roughly 10 per cent of the world’s GDP.
Although new infections and COVID-19-related death rates have recently slowed, the pandemic’s future course remains uncertain, as does the economic and social consequences that will follow.
Torn between saving lives and reviving the economy, some governments are already beginning to cautiously lift restrictions to jumpstart their economies.
But recovery will largely depend on how well public health and fiscal measures work together to stem the spread of the virus, minimizing reinfection risks, safeguarding employment and restoring consumer confidence, so that people start spending again.
“The pace and strength of the recovery from the crisis”, explained Mr. Harris, will also rest on “the ability of countries to protect jobs and incomes, particularly of the most vulnerable members of our societies”.
Without a quick breakthrough in vaccine development and treatment, DESA maintains that “the post COVID-19 world will likely be vastly different”, from the one we knew.
Although a modest rebound of around 3.4 per cent, mostly recovering lost output, is expected for 2021, the report spelled out that “the possibility of a slow recovery and prolonged economic slump, with rising poverty and inequality, looms large”.
Trade and tourism are paralyzed, while large deficits and high levels of public debt will pose significant challenges for developing countries and small island States.
The UN forecast makes clear that stronger multilateral support and solidarity to contain the pandemic, along with economic and financial assistance to countries hardest hit by the crisis, will remain “critical for accelerating recovery and putting the world back on the trajectory of sustainable development”.
#BillMorneau; #G7; #G20; #IMF; #GlobalEconomy; #WorldBank; #COVID19Crisis
Ottawa, Apr 19 (Canadian-Media): Bill Morneau, Federal minister of Finance participated, this past week, in productive virtual meetings of the G7 and G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, in which he and his colleagues endorsed the G20 Action Plan of Supporting the Global Economy through the COVID-19 Crisis, media reports said.
Bill Morneau. Image credit: Twitter
COVID-19 is a global crisis that requires global collaboration, said Morneau. This week’s discussions with G7, G20, the IMF and the World Bank Group colleagues resulted in co-ordinated help for vulnerable countries to address the pandemic, notably by suspending all official bilateral debt service repayments.
COVID-19 Debt Service Suspension Initiative was stronly supported by Canada.
"Canada also announced a new $1 billion loan commitment to help the IMF meet the urgent financing needs of low-income countries...will continue to take necessary action at home, and with international partners, to mitigate economic impacts...We are all in this together,” said Morneau
All bilateral and private creditors were urged by Morneau to participate in this initiative, stressing that debt sustainability and transparency are essential prerequisites to inclusive and sustainable growth.
#ILO; #WorldBank; #IMF; #DC; #Covid19; #WorldofWork; #IMFC
Geneva, Apr 17 (Canadian-Media): In submissions to the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank the ILO Director-General has laid out a four-pillar plan of policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis, that are human-centred and built on global solidarity, ILO reports said.
© Ryan Brown / UN Women
The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, has called for an immediate human-centred response through global solidarity to the COVID-19 pandemic .
In written statements (International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee ) to the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB), Ryder described the human dimension of the pandemic as devastating, and its combined health, social and economic effects as the worst crisis since the Second World War.
He urged the IMF and WB to focus their response on “providing immediate relief to workers and enterprises in order to protect businesses and livelihoods, particularly in hard-hit sectors and in developing countries”. He said priority attention should be given to the impact on smaller enterprises, unprotected workers, and those in the informal economy.
“The crisis has uncovered the huge decent work deficits that still prevail in 2020 and shown how vulnerable millions of working people are when a crisis hits."
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General
According to the latest edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work , 81 per cent of the global workforce (2.7 billion workers) live in countries with mandatory or recommended closures. It also shows that working hours will decline by 6.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, which is equivalent to the loss of 195 million full-time jobs.
Ryder urged the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee (DC) to put their weight behind four inter-related policy responses.
Firstly, stimulating the economy and demand for labour by using available fiscal and monetary tools and debt relief. Public investment in health systems would be doubly effective as a crucial contribution to beating the pandemic and creating decent jobs.
Secondly, providing immediate assistance to sustain enterprises, preserve jobs and support incomes. In this context, Ryder highlighted the particular need to invest in social protection measures, which can help mitigate the worst shocks of the crisis while acting as an economic stabiliser.
Thirdly, ensuring adequate protection for all those who continue to work during the crisis. That requires guarantees for safety and health in the workplace, properly designed work arrangements such as teleworking, and access to sick pay.
Fourthly, making full use of social dialogue between governments, and workers and employers’ organisations, which has a proven record of generating effective, practical, and equitable solutions to the type of challenges now confronting the world of work.
“We must aim to build back better so that our new systems are safer, fairer and more sustainable than those that allowed this crisis to happen, and more effective in cushioning the consequences of future crises on people around the globe."
“The crisis has uncovered the huge decent work deficits that still prevail in 2020 and shown how vulnerable millions of working people are when a crisis hits,” said Ryder, citing gaps in social protection coverage, the precarious situations of many small businesses, and weaknesses in global supply chains. He called on the IMF and the WB to resist pressure for austerity and fiscal consolidation that might come at the first signs of economic improvement and obstruct full and sustainable recovery.
The crisis has shown that habits and behaviours can change, said Ryder, pointing to the potential 4 per cent fall in global carbon emissions in 2020 because of the lockdown.
“We must aim to build back better so that our new systems are safer, fairer and more sustainable than those that allowed this crisis to happen, and more effective in cushioning the consequences of future crises on people around the globe,” he concluded.
Tags: decent work, precarious employment, livelihoods, unemployment, arrangement of working time, hours of work, social dialogue, social protection, human development, economic recovery, incomes policy, small enterprises, informal economy, debt, investment, multilateral system, vulnerable groups, health, occupational safety and health, safety management, ILO Director General
#ILO; #Enterprises; #globalRecession; #Depression; #marketEconomy
Switzerland, Apr 17 (Canadian-Media): Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and their employees are an essential part of the social and economic fabric of daily life worldwide. This vital role is now under threat from the unprecedented effects of COVID-19. We face the real prospect that a global recession becomes a depression, International Labour Organization (ILO) reports said.
In this situation, controlling the pandemic, maintaining workers’ incomes and minimizing the long-term costs of collapsing businesses are essential. Much action is underway, but more ambitious programmes and international assistance to developing countries are urgently needed.
Interventions should start with clarity on the top priority; that is, treating the infected persons and controlling COVID-19 infection curves. The response should recognize the temporary nature of the shock. Measures should be at both the micro and macro levels, with consistent and complementary goals, backed by solid monitoring, so that they can be maintained, adjusted, or phased out as appropriate. Use of resources should be maximized, beyond the usual parameters.
Different aspects of the crisis require different actions. The main phases are; (1) generalized inactivity due to the halt of economic and social activities, to prevent the virus spreading. (2) Reactivation of business activity once the virus spread is under control. (3) Recovery to pre-crisis conditions. The duration of each phase is and will remain uncertain and the timing to support workers, firms and households should therefore remain flexible.
Steve Dorst / ABADE Program
Both formal and informal economic units would require significant support. This is an opportunity for all economic units to emerge from the shock and become part of a better integrated and accommodative market economy. The fundamental need is to support entire economic systems; the ways to reach informal units vary from country to country and data availability.
Combining strong government capacity, tripartite dialogue, and joint implementation with local and sectoral players will be essential, to allow for action that utilizes clear information, coherence and efficiency. To ensure rapid responses, announced programmes should be communicated with as much detail as possible, using existing social and economic mechanisms.
There is consensus that there will be huge, unavoidable, economic costs and a significant increase in public debt will be needed to absorb an important part of the loss of income. The challenge is to contain as far as possible the widespread defaults that could lead to a prolonged global depression. Mario Draghi (the Italian economist who served as President of the European Central Bank until 2019) reminds us that higher public debt levels will become a permanent feature of our economies, accompanied by some degree of private debt cancellation if jobs and productive capacity are to be maintained. The crisis requires clear funding instruments, in the form of either large stabilization or emergency funds, integrating the different initiatives into a coherent strategy with clear goals.
Firms’ most urgent requirement is to access cash and reduce operating costs. These critical needs can be supported with measures such as emergency interest-free loans or cash grants and suspending or deferring the payment of fixed operating costs. Bureaucratic requirements on business activity should be minimized.
Monetary policy is already making major contributions and a solid, coordinated, strategy involving monetary and financial sector policies and private banks’ participation is essential. Although the banking sector is entering the crisis with sufficient capital requirements, financial sector fragility can arise from large levels of public and private debt. Under current conditions, we have to face the necessity of different options for debt resolution and restructuring, and for some debt, the possibility of write-offs and re-conversion to long-term, low-interest, loans. For the smallest economic units, new programmes to channel micro credits through micro financial operators should have ambitious aims, but supervision and support are key as micro finance institutions can face large defaults in their portfolios.
Helping firms retain staff is crucial. Grants to support wages, training, productivity improvements, and the development of new products and services can help avoid layoffs. At the local level, assessment programmes can help firms understand local conditions, and link to production and business networks more effectively. Digital platforms can be particularly effective in collating information and data to give a better picture of local markets.
Our experiences with COVID-19 can have a positive legacy if we use it to help firms review their productivity and use of technology, and update management practices and procedures. If the right business environment is nurtured, the COVID-19 shock could create new opportunities.
The challenge is immense but so should be our commitment to respond.
#ILO; LabourStatistics; #Covid19Pandemic; #TravelBans; #SocialDistancing; #CATI; #CAWI
Switzerland, Apr 17 (Canadian-Media): The pandemic is radically impacting our lives. Without timely and accurate information about the statistics used to assess those impacts we will not act through adequate and informed policies, International Labour Organization (ILO) reports said.
Though numbers should focus on the health of the population, we also need to understand what is happening in the domain of labour statistics. That is, how is COVID-19 affecting our working lives? What is less obvious, however, is that the pandemic is also affecting our ability to compile such statistics.
The ILO reached out to national statistical offices to assess how producers of precious official statistics are reacting to the enormous challenge they now face. The clear conclusion is that the impact is incredible worldwide but, not surprisingly, varies depending on existing context, infrastructure and capacities. Some common patterns and responses can be identified, which are useful to share as a guide for countries facing up to the challenge.
That challenge is amazingly difficult, if not insurmountable in many cases, if the only objective is to maintain current compilations, let alone to be responsive by generating new data, a must to shed light on the impact of COVID-19 on the world of work. This means that in this unprecedented situation, National statistical Offices, Ministries of Labour and other producers of statistics face a double challenge: providing continuity and maintaining minimum data quality while also being responsive to new demands.
Impacts of COVID-19 on producers of labour statistics
Carrying out household surveys in times of travel bans and social distancing
Labour force surveys (LFS) are household-based sample surveys and serve as the main source of statistics for monitoring labour markets. They provide key indicators on employment, unemployment and working conditions to name a few.
While telephone and web interviewing are on the increase, most countries across the globe continue to rely on face-to-face interviewing as their primary mode of data collection for their LFS. Restrictions in movement forced countries to suspend these operations. Countries are reacting to this in various ways, often by shifting to telephone interviewing. However, this is not easy, and more importantly, when done at short notice with little planning, it can significantly affect response rates and data quality. Meanwhile, some countries temporarily suspended interviewing entirely, particularly those with less frequent surveys in place.
Countries that were already using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) or Computer Assisted Web Interviewing (CAWI) are somewhat less impacted by disruptions, perhaps teaching us some valuable lessons about how to create resilience in data collection in the future. Nonetheless, all countries are dealing with the effects of changes in working arrangements and are increasingly feeling the direct impact of the illness among both survey personnel and respondents.
Other than the mode of data collection, countries are endeavouring to find ways to maintain response rates and data quality. Some examples include reducing survey content to maintain response rates, re-interviewing previously visited households using available contact information or using publicity campaigns to promote response.
Urgent new demands for data
Inevitably, there is a huge demand for additional data to understand the many impacts on the labour market.
A general response is to place a greater emphasis on indicators that can supplement employment and unemployment numbers. While those numbers will remain key, they will not be sufficient on their own to explain the many impacts of COVID-19 on people’s working lives. Estimates of lay-offs, working time, reasons for changes in labour market status and other elements that are often already collected are potentially useful, although they are not highlighted in normal times.
Countries are also reviewing the content of their surveys to add questions that provide additional details on the ways in which people are impacted. This may be through loss of jobs, lower working time or earnings, or even higher working time among those directly facing the impact of COVID-19, such as health workers, public security officers and workers in transport.
In some cases, administrative data will provide a powerful supplementary source of information to the LFS. The ability to extract data from these sources can be valuable, but also potentially under threat in cases where the working arrangements of government ministries are heavily disrupted.
We are in close contact with national data producers and recognise the many challenges they face to continue publishing timely and accurate labour statistics. We are committed to maintaining this close contact and providing support. We will continue to compile and share country practices in response to these challenges and to provide guidance using this information. For the latest information and other guidance, visit our portal on COVID-19 and labour statistics.